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Environment and Communications Legislation Committee
27/02/2018
Estimates
COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS PORTFOLIO
Special Broadcasting Service Corporation

Special Broadcasting Service Corporation

[14:30]

CHAIR: Welcome back, SBS. Is there an opening statement?

Mr Ebeid : Thank you. As we head into 2018 I'm pleased to advise the committee that our research is showing that Australians are increasingly proud of SBS and the value of the services that we're providing, and I'd just like to highlight a couple of examples. We're experiencing significant growth in our audience engagement in our new services across our digital platforms, particularly as the audience's focus on trust in media increases. Trust in SBS new has increased at a time when trust in media overall has been brought into question. I hear from our new migrant groups about how they're increasingly relying on SBS to help them navigate life in Australia, to learn about Australian culture and values. We're proud of the services of some 70-odd language groups across radio and online, and we're seeing record growth in our download rates for our in-language programs.

Notwithstanding forthcoming competitive and regulatory threats, I'm pleased to inform senators that SBS is certainly more multiculturally diverse and distinctive in our content than services certainly in mainstream media. Australians are looking to SBS for an alternative offering in what's otherwise a homogenous market, and no doubt this is contributing to our increasing popularity. I continue to hear from international media counterparts about how fortunate Australia is to have had the foresight, some 40 years ago, to establish a media institution for the benefit of social cohesion, and some of these nations are now emulating our network.

We take seriously our responsibilities to play a meaningful role in sharing in the value of multiculturalism and diversity more broadly with all Australians. And as the PM said in the United Nations last year, SBS is a symbol of our nation's commitment to a vibrant multicultural society in which a diversity of views and voices can be heard. Certainly we're looking forward to showcasing in Parliament House next month our new 2018 drama slate, and I hope as many of the committee members are able to attend. I look forward to taking your questions.

CHAIR: Excellent. Thank you very much.

Senator KENEALLY: Mr Ebeid, firstly, please accept my congratulations on winning CEO magazine's CEO of the Year award.

Mr Ebeid : Thank you.

Senator Fifield: Even though it was a short time ago, you can't walk into an airport lounge in Australia without being confronted by Mr Ebeid's visage! Congratulations, Mr Ebeid, on that acknowledgement.

Mr Ebeid : Thank you. Now that I'm suitably embarrassed—

Senator KENEALLY: If I can embarrass you just a bit further, for the benefit of the committee could you please tell us what winning that award means for you as well as for SBS?

Mr Ebeid : Gosh, I didn't expect that question in Senate estimates! I think for SBS I'm really pleased about the fact the award has recognised our organisation as an organisation that has really transformed over the last six years such that audiences are now talking about SBS in a way they didn't before. I think that we're really resonating with what we're doing with our content. And the way that we've been running the organisation with significant improvements in our culture has led to a lot of this success as well. I think that recognition of that award is a real credit to everyone who works with me and all my colleagues at SBS, because it's a recognition of what the organisation's done. Thank you.

Senator KENEALLY: It's lovely that you share the honour with your colleagues. That's very humble of you.

Mr Ebeid : Well, you can't achieve anything as a CEO without a great team and a great organisation, so I wouldn't be getting the award without the organisation. It's impossible to delink the two, I think.

Senator KENEALLY: Let me ask: what's it like to be CEO of the Year at a media service that is facing the government's competitive neutrality inquiry? It must be as though you're being punished for your own success, at a time of great change in the media environment.

Mr Ebeid : As I said at the last Senate estimates—I know you weren't here, Senator—from our perspective we certainly are wanting to understand the objective or the problem that we're trying to solve by this review. I said that at the last committee meeting. But certainly the minister's stated objective with this review is about ensuring that the public broadcasters don't have a competitive advantage, that they are abiding by the principles of competitive neutrality, and that we don't have a net advantage in the market. From my perspective, certainly from the competitive neutrality principles, I'm incredibly confident that there is absolutely no way that SBS is breaching any competitive neutrality principles. I'm very confident of that.

So I look forward to the review to be able to demonstrate that. And certainly from the perspective of having a net advantage, if anything we have an incredible net disadvantage at SBS, because we have only five minutes an hour of ads, compared with 15 minutes for the commercial networks. We have about 10 to 15 per cent of their budget on content, and we currently enjoy only 1.8 per cent of the overall advertising revenue in the television market. So, with a 1.8 share of advertising, with a market share of six per cent, with a budget of let's say somewhere between 10 and 15 per cent of their content spend, it's very hard for anyone to imagine how we could have a financial advantage or in any way a commercial advantage over other networks. So, from my perspective I'm looking forward to being able to demonstrate that in the review. And once we see the full terms of reference of the review I'll be able to comment further.

Senator KENEALLY: Thank you. I will come back to the budget and funding and some of the challenges that you face. But Minister, can you advise the committee of when the terms of reference for the competitive neutrality inquiry will be available?

Senator Fifield: Very shortly. I did undertake, when we made the announcement, that we would be consulting on the terms of reference with the two public broadcasters as well as commercial broadcasters, and that has occurred. Those will be available in the very near future. We'll also announce who will be undertaking the review.

Senator KENEALLY: So, appointments have not yet been made to conduct the inquiry?

Senator Fifield: They are in the process. They're not yet complete, but in the process.

Senator KENEALLY: Do you know how many appointments there will be? How many? Will you have a committee? Will you have a chairperson?

Senator Fifield: It'll be two or three people—most likely three.

Senator KENEALLY: I note that in the 24 October estimates—in fact, I think Mr Eccles may have said, and you agreed, Mr Fifield—that your hope was to have the inquiry up and running by the end of last year. Obviously that time frame's come and gone. Can you be any more specific about when we'll see the terms of reference and these appointments?

Senator Fifield: We'd be talking about weeks, not months.

Senator KENEALLY: Do you know how long the inquiry will run?

Senator Fifield: We haven't set a deadline. I think at the last estimates there was a suggestion that we had, but we don't have a specific timeframe at this point. When we make the announcement we'll give a clear indication of the expected timeframe.

Senator KENEALLY: You said at the last estimates that you didn't think it would be a year. It might be six months, or something of that order. Is that still roughly a reasonable assessment?

Senator Fifield: That's right. You don't want these things to drag. You want them to be fairly short and sharp.

Senator KENEALLY: What resources will support the inquiry?

Senator Fifield: Resources required from the department.

Mr Mrdak : Perhaps I can assist. The department has set up a unit—a small team within the department—with a senior SES officer and a small team. That will provide the secretariat support for the review.

Senator KENEALLY: That unit is already set up?

Mr Mrdak : It's set up in anticipation of the terms of reference being finalised and issued and the work underway.

Senator KENEALLY: What are they doing now until the terms of reference are finalised?

Mr Mrdak : There preparing background material for the likely panel, once that is settled and announced, to be able to commence work quite quickly. Also, the officers involved have been working on the terms of reference.

Senator KENEALLY: When was that unit set up?

Mr Mrdak : It's been set up in the last three weeks.

Senator KENEALLY: If I can turn to funding, Mr Ebeid, you outlined some of the challenges that SBS faces in competing, if you will, with commercial content providers. You listed there the market share, the amount of revenue available to you due to your advertising. Can you advise the committee what impact the loss of $9 million that was identified in last year's MYEFO to SBS would have on the provision of programs and services for Australians and in fulfilling your charter obligations?

Mr Ebeid : You're referring to the funding that was taken away from SBS because of the flexible advertising legislation bill which was withdrawn by the government last year. SBS has been fortunate that the government has reinstated that funding for the last couple of years, which has enabled us to maintain the services that we provide. I have said at previous estimates that that level of funding would be unable to be absorbed in further funding cuts or efficiency savings within SBS, given the other $25 million we've already had cut from our budgets. We would need to adjust our content and radio programs and online programs if we did have to absorb another $9 million worth of cuts. We are working with the government closely, as we did last year, and I remain hopeful that that will be reinstated for this year, but that's obviously a matter for the government. We'll need to adjust our cloth accordingly.

Senator KENEALLY: Minister, that $9 million funding hole in the SBS budget identified in MYEFO last year has not yet been filled?

Senator Fifield: As Mr Ebeid indicated, SBS in 2015-16 received $4.1 million and in 2016-17, $6.9 million. In terms of where to next, that will be considered in the usual budget process.

Senator KENEALLY: Given that the SBS advertising flexibility bill has been withdrawn, why hasn't the government replaced that funding to SBS?

Senator Fifield: You're right. That bill was withdrawn because it was deemed that there won't reasonable prospects of success. I think I'm being accurate here in saying that SBS would like just a little bit more flexibility when it comes to advertising, but the Senate wasn't minded to agree to that. So we have, as a result, made supplementation over a number of years. As always, these matters will be considered in the context of the government's budget processes.

Senator KENEALLY: Are you able to rule out any further budget cuts to SBS in the 2018 budget at this point?

Senator Fifield: I think it's important to note that the triennial funding for ABC and SBS was outlined a couple of years back, and that hasn't been altered in subsequent budgets. That triennial funding goes through to June 2019.

Senator KENEALLY: I turn now to the salaries disclosure bill. Minister, I understand you wrote to SBS last year, demanding they disclose the salaries of on-air talent, and you've now introduced a bill that will force such a disclosure. Why single out the ABC and SBS for such disclosure?

Senator Fifield: I think my letter to SBS is better characterised as advising SBS, and—in a separate letter—the ABC, of government policy. Both the ABC's and the SBS's act allow the government to advise the public broadcasters of government policy. The public broadcasters are not bound to observe government policy, but I think the acts say words to the effect that they should have regard to it. SBS had regard to it and SBS wrote back indicating that, while supporting the principle of enhanced transparency, they weren't minded to give effect to the government policy as expressed in the letter to them. At the time that this policy was announced, I said that, if the public broadcasters chose not to have regard to government policy, we would then seek to legislate that.

Senator KENEALLY: Thank you for that summary. Perhaps you could expand a little bit, Minister, and tell me: in your view, what is the government policy seeking to achieve by forcing this salary disclosure?

Senator Fifield: ABC receives over a billion dollars a year. SBS receives a couple of hundred million dollars a year. This is a significant public investment, and the government is of the view that having enhanced transparency for senior staff of these organisations is appropriate, that there is a high level of transparency when it comes to the salaries of people on the public payroll, whether they be judges or members of parliament or senior military officers, and that this level of transparency is appropriate for the public broadcasters.

Senator KENEALLY: Given that that's the government's position, as to the level of transparency for senior staff, particularly given the amount of public funding, why not require the same transparency of Australia Post or the NBN?

Senator Fifield: There are high levels of disclosure for NBN and Australia Post.

Senator KENEALLY: But not down to the level of everyone over $200,000 annually.

Senator Fifield: I think there's a particular public interest in ABC and SBS as media organisations.

Senator KENEALLY: You don't think the public has a similar level of interest in NBN and Australia Post?

Senator Fifield: I think the public has a high level of interest there as well.

Senator KENEALLY: Perhaps One Nation just hasn't expressed that interest yet?

Senator Fifield: Well, as you rightly indicate, these developments in government policy were in the context of wider media reform.

Senator KENEALLY: Would the government have pursued this disclosure if One Nation hadn't suggested it?

Senator Fifield: It was something that a number of my own coalition colleagues were, in parallel, and even before, suggesting should be pursued, and I like to be responsive to my colleagues.

Senator KENEALLY: Mr Ebeid, it's the case, is it not, that your chairman, in his response to the minister, has raised concerns that prominent on-air figures or members of the SBS executive team do not understand why their personal information should be made public when this does not occur at the staff level in counterpart public service agencies such as Australia Post, NBN and CSIRO, or the private sector? Are your staff concerned, Mr Ebeid, about the government's proposed legislation?

Mr Ebeid : I think it's fair to say that there is a level of concern because it is not required of any other government department or agency. I think there is a concern about the fact that we operate in a competitive environment for talent in a very different way to what even our own department would, yet those requirements are not made of other agencies or departments. We are absolutely committed to transparency, which is why we meet all the current guidelines around reporting salaries of the latest Prime Minister and Cabinet requirements in our annual reporting. We believe that, given our levels of salaries, that is totally appropriate. You can see from the tables that I circulated at the last estimates committee on this subject that certainly we don't have any salaries at all that are outside of what you would consider to be fair and reasonable, so we don't have a salary problem. Identifying individuals just doesn't make any sense to us, and publishing people's personal data I think is a breach of their privacy, certainly at the staff level between senior executives and the $200,000 level. I don't think it adds anything to transparency more than we already are.

Senator KENEALLY: Minister, taken together, do you think the cumulative effect of the government's current budget cuts to the SBS, the competitive neutrality inquiry and the salaries disclosure bill are having a positive impact on the SBS?

Senator Fifield: I'll take each of those in turn. Firstly, in terms of transparency and salaries, what we're looking at is really something that the BBC, which is a comparable public broadcaster, has already done. In relation to the competitive neutrality inquiry, colleagues would be aware that SBS and ABC have very strong views on this subject and the commercial broadcasters also have very strong views. I think it's appropriate that there be a forum, that there be a mechanism, that the various perspectives can be put forward and the case is made. I think that's just a good, healthy and transparent thing to do. In terms of the SBS budget, we have made supplementation over the last few years. Where to next will be considered in the context of the budget.

Senator KENEALLY: Mr Ebeid, I'd like to ask you some questions that go back to the issue you raised regarding revenue and the limitations on your advertising time per hour in the context of your current budget situation. This relates to hidden advertising and branding content and specifically the Bondi Harvest program. Would you please tell the committee about this program? Did SBS commission the program, and when did it go to air?

Mr Ebeid : Bondi Harvest is one of what we call our low-cost acquisitions. It's a food program that is only on the Food Network—one of our multichannels. We did acquire that as a pre-sale acquisition, which means that it's made by an independent producer. Within all our codes and guidelines of productions, we are able to have branded and co-branded content in our programs—that's absolutely fine. The key criteria around branded content is when it's editorially suitable and has a purpose editorially. So, in the example of that program, it means that we were able to acquire that piece of content from the producer at considerably lower cost than it ordinarily would have been in terms of cost per hour. We are talking about a difference of 10 per cent of what it would have cost us if we'd commissioned and made that program ourselves. We at all times ensure that we have editorial oversight, editorial responsibility, so, if we want to edit it in any way, we can. We also make sure that any branded content in the program is absolutely within context and does not in any way affect our editorial independence, of either the network or the program. At such a low budget cost program, it certainly has no impact on our editorial independence as a network. Also, the young chef who features in that program is somebody that we thought is a great up-and-coming Australian chef, and we wanted to promote the work that he's doing, because a lot of the food that he's doing is around multicultural cuisine, which really worked well for our audience. The final thing I would say on that program is that we are always keen to get more Australian content onto the Food Network, and that's a great cost-effective way for us to do that.

Senator KENEALLY: The chef is Guy Turland. He is a restaurateur, author and entrepreneur. He has got cookbooks, a cafe, I believe, in the United States, YouTube recipe videos, and other products. Can I be clear? You purchased this program? Bondi Harvest hasn't commercially purchased time to screen this series?

Mr Ebeid : No, there is no involvement between us and Bondi Harvest at all. I might just add also: all TV chefs would have restaurants, books et cetera. That's pretty standard for TV chefs.

Senator KENEALLY: Sure. Is it the case, though, that some of those other shows on SBS, such as Andy and Ben Eat Australia and Born to Cook: Jack Stein DownUnder, are independently produced, whereas this show is actually made by Bondi Harvest?

Mr Ebeid : No, it's not made by Bondi Harvest. It was made by an independent producer who would have organised various branded sponsorships of the program to help with the funding. Then we buy that as a presale from the producer.

Senator KENEALLY: Okay, so that's where the branded content comes in.

Mr Ebeid : Yes. That's how we manage to bring the budgets to an economical level.

Senator KENEALLY: Is this product placement, if I can use that term?

Mr Ebeid : In a way, but we call it branded content.

Senator KENEALLY: Potato, potahto, I suppose.

Mr Ebeid : You could call it product placement, yes.

Senator KENEALLY: Is this something of a grey area in the regulation of SBS programs?

Mr Ebeid : Not at all. Our codes cover this area quite clearly. As I mentioned earlier, we are certainly able to include product placement and brand sponsorship in our programs where it makes editorial sense and we also make sure that it's not overtaking the editorial intent of the program and that it is always very subtle in what we do. It's certainly not something that is overt.

Senator KENEALLY: Does the SBS code actually provide for that?

Mr Ebeid : Absolutely, yes, it does.

Senator KENEALLY: In computing the five-minute hourly advertising limit which is set under the SBS Act, does SBS include or exclude product placement time?

Mr Ebeid : That's excluding.

Senator KENEALLY: Has SBS received any complaints about the Bondi Harvest program in relation to product placement or a breach of the advertising sponsorship provisions in the SBS code of practice?

Mr Ebeid : Not to my knowledge, but I'll have to take that on notice. I'm certainly not aware of any complaints, but I'm happy to take that on notice.

Senator KENEALLY: Could you perhaps just point me to—and I'm happy for you to take this on notice—where in the SBS codes of practice I would find information about branded content and product placement?

Mr Ebeid : Sure. I had, just before I came in, something similar. In our codes, it is in code 5.9.1, the use of products and services and facilities in content production. That's where you will find it in our editorial guidelines.

Senator KENEALLY: Do you have any plans to review or amend that section of the code?

Mr Ebeid : Our codes were only recently updated, I think, two years ago. Our board approves all of our codes so that was updated back then. So to answer your question, I don't have any plans to update the codes in the near future.

Senator KENEALLY: I am happy for you to take this question on notice or you can provide an answer here today if you have it to hand. How much revenue does product placement bring to SBS annually?

Mr Ebeid : As I mentioned, in that example, Bondi Harvest, we actually don't get any revenue from that at all. The producer gets that as part of sponsorship of making the production and then we benefit from having a lower acquisition cost so we don't actually see any revenue from that.

Senator KENEALLY: I think you said earlier—perhaps you can remind me—what is the discount for Bondi Harvest, say, compared to commissioning the show yourself?

Mr Ebeid : It varies obviously show by show; there is no set discount. But we would have acquired Bondi Harvest for somewhere around 10 per cent of what the total production cost would have been so it would certainly save us several hundred thousand dollars.

Senator KENEALLY: So you acquired it for 10 per cent of what?

Mr Ebeid : Ten per cent of what it would have cost us if we made the show on our own.

Senator KENEALLY: That is quite significant.

Mr Ebeid : It is really about trying to get more Australian content on the Food Network especially.

Senator KENEALLY: In the time remaining, can you outline the highlights of 2017 and 2018 for SBS in delivering on its charter obligations. In short, what should we be looking out for in terms of achievement for SBS in the coming 12 months?

Mr Ebeid : There were two parts of your question. I could be here all night because I am passionate about SBS and I could talk about all the good things we are doing. There are a few people behind me who might want to go home. I am very passionate about the good things that we are doing. We've had some fantastic shows in the last few months. Australian dramas like Sunshine were a big hit for our audiences. That showcased the South Sudanese community and was set in Melbourne. It is a wonderful four-hour drama that is available on SBS On Demand should anyone not have had a chance to see it. It really showed Australians a different side of the South Sudanese community, some of their struggles around coming to Australia, the struggles of a lot of migrant communities. And it was a fantastic cast that was really, for many of the people in it, first-time actors from the South Sudanese community. The South Sudanese community really appreciated being highlighted in mainstream media in such a positive way.

We had a series of Family Law, which has an all-Australian-Chinese cast. It is written by Benjamin Law. It is a comedy drama which was very much on charter for us, which was great. Eurovision is a highlight every year for us where we get to showcase Australia's talents on the world's biggest stage when it comes to music. We are so excited that we have been able to negotiate Australia's participation and put young Australian artists on the world stage and help their careers.

From a language perspective, our radio programs are very much at the heart of what SBS does, reaching out to the 70 language groups that we do. We had a radio review last year. We are doing more language programs for some of our more recent migrants into Australia so we are launching six new languages in the coming months including Telugu, Karen, Tibetan, Rohingya and Kirundi. They're all new migrants that are coming to Australia that really need our services.

In the coming year, we've got a fantastic drama coming up called Safe Harbour, which, again, is a great Australian production. Dead Lucky is another great production that we're doing later in the year. This year, another big highlight, of course, is the World Cup, bringing the world's biggest football to Australia and Australian audiences, which we're looking forward to doing. We've got some fantastic stories in a series that we're calling Untold Australia, where we literally will tell stories that nobody else is, particularly around the regions. In Indigenous stories, we've got a great documentary, Wik v Queensland, about the land rights case from several years back, as well as Songlines, featuring some Indigenous cultural programs around Indigenous songlines and continuing that series. So I think we've got a lot of things coming out this year, and also a lot of new food programs this year as well, which continues our ability to explore cultures through food. I might stop there, if you've got any questions, otherwise I will keep going!

Senator REYNOLDS: If we can go back to Eurovision?

Mr Ebeid : Sure.

Senator Fifield: A not-so-secret guilty secret, Senator Reynolds!

Mr Ebeid : Please don't ask me anything that we haven't announced yet.

Senator REYNOLDS: Not so secret anymore. It involves funding. Is there a fee that goes with the involvement of Australian artists in the competition? How does that eventuate? And what does the whole Eurovision package cost versus revenue?

Mr Ebeid : Firstly, SBS is very, very good at negotiating a lot with very little. We have been doing that for a long time. We were already paying a licence fee for the broadcast of Eurovision, and to have an entry in the competition was a very minimal incremental cost; it wasn't a lot of money. It's obviously commercial-in-confidence, but needless to say, it was very small amount. Most of the costs that are picked up in terms of sending the artist—the entourage for the artist, things like the song writers, the choreographers et cetera—are picked up by the artist, or the record label. So there's no additional cost to the taxpayer in doing that. A lot of our cost is around the rights fee, but also the production that we do, because we obviously send our two hosts, Myf Warhurst and Joel Creasey, to do the show from Eurovision, and obviously the production team. So that's where the bulk of the cost is. I'm pleased to say the revenues we get in advertising well and truly cover those costs, which is great. And so, you know, from a taxpayer perspective, it's covered.

Senator REYNOLDS: In the relationship you have with the label itself, they cover the cost, as you've said, of getting the artist there and doing the production and the song. Do you get any royalties? So if the song is a hit, do you get any royalties or is that part of the deal that they take the risk of it either succeeding or not?

Mr Ebeid : I will double check, but I believe we've a very small back end involved. But it's a very small percentage.

Senator REYNOLDS: In relation to the series Homeland, I'm just wondering if you can tell us more about how you came to acquire that, because some might look at that and think, 'How is that in the charter for SBS?' Can you explain a bit more about how that came about and how you got it in your charter?

Mr Ebeid : Homeland is an American version of an original series, which SBS had, which was an Israeli production we aired originally a couple of years ago. So Homeland is really an extension of that program. It's obviously a great drama that is set predominantly, originally, around the Middle East and some of those issues around terrorism and things like that. So we felt it was a natural extension. As to how we came to get it, I may need to take it on notice.

Senator REYNOLDS: Don't worry about that. So you're comfortable that it fits in with your charter?

Mr Ebeid : Absolutely. I think there's a great synergy there. Where we have an original series, which we would have run in language, which is then made in the UK or the US, we will often try and pick up the second version of that, if you like, to show our audiences. I remind the committee that we do from time to time have programs that have absolutely nothing to do with our charter that are broad entertainment programs, to be able to attract a slightly broader audience to then cross-promote our really—

Senator REYNOLDS: My question was not a criticism in any way, because I think there are some themes there that are very contemporary. I was just wondering about the background to it.

Mr Ebeid : That's the logic.

Senator KENEALLY: And I can confirm that there are American migrants in Australia.

Mr Ebeid : On Eurovision, what keeps me up at night is that if we're too good as an artist and we do win, I will be knocking on the government's door to help host the Eurovision Song Contest, because that will be an expensive proposition.

Senator REYNOLDS: There's one member of the committee who would be very supportive.

Senator Fifield: I hope I'm put in that tough situation.

Mr Ebeid : Fantastic!

Senator KENEALLY: There was a very thorough and enthusiastic response to my question about the highlights coming up. Thank you for that. I notice that you didn't include Mark Humphries. Do you have a reaction to his 'SBS is best' ad, recently released?

Mr Ebeid : Mark Humphries is a fantastic comedian. I love seeing a lot of his work. We try to pick up the theme of the day, particularly around politics. There's no shortage of great material that we're able to add a bit of satire to from activities in Canberra, and that's what he tends to focus on. I think the Nick Xenophon ad was very much done in a satirical way; we just had a lend of that. I don't think we've really had any negative feedback from that. It was a good little segment, that one.

Senator KENEALLY: Mark Humphries for Eurovision—no?

Mr Ebeid : Mark Humphries has been lobbying me for a long time to go to Eurovision. He hasn't succeeded as yet but now he has obviously got senators working on it. We'll see.

Senator Fifield: We'll take that as a question on notice.

Senator REYNOLDS: Where is Eurovision this year?

Mr Ebeid : This year it will be hosted in Lisbon, in Portugal. Jessica Mauboy will be representing Australia. I think she's a fantastic artist on so many different levels. And, Senator, I can assure you, you don't have long to wait. We'll be releasing the song that Jessica will be singing in the coming two weeks. I think Australia will really love the song that she's—

Senator REYNOLDS: We heard it here first in estimates!

Senator Fifield: The Minister for the Arts will be paying close attention.

Mr Ebeid : It's a real toe-tapper.

CHAIR: On that wonderful note, we will break now. That concludes our consideration of SBS.

Proceedings suspended from 15:12 to 15:25